Photo recreates nearly 100-year-old image of workers celebrating Bear Mountain Bridge construction

Their legs dangled over Route 6. Some leaned against the steel beams. There was even a dog on the right side of the shot. It was just like 1924, except in color and with safety harnesses.

Ben Nandy

Nov 17, 2023, 11:40 PM

Updated 148 days ago

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Bridge maintenance workers, local officials and honored guests blocked traffic on the Bear Mountain Bridge Friday for about 30 minutes as they meticulously recreated a 99-year-old photo of workers celebrating the completion of the bridge's construction.
Their legs dangled over Route 6. Some leaned against the steel beams. There was even a dog on the right side of the shot. It was just like 1924, except in color and with safety harnesses.
The Bear Mountain Bridge was the world's first concrete suspension bridge, according to the New York State Bridge Authority, and set a precedent that led to the construction of other suspension bridges including the George Washington and Golden Gate.
The organizers were meticulous in setting up the new photo, which will be featured at numerous centennial events for the bridge over the next year.
NYSBA Maintenance Manager Fred Gardner was down below, eyes darting between his copy of the 1924 photo and the workers above, giving each different commands to tweak their position.
"Move over to the middle," he yelled to one worker and taking another glance down at his photo, "right over next to Bri."
The act of climbing the bridge and hanging over traffic is "nothing unusual," Garnder said of the project, but "we've never recreated something like this."
Once the 49 workers were in their places on the beams above, about 100 more people took their positions below to fill the bottom of the photo; they included public officials, historians and honored guests, like Desmond Connick.
Connick walks across the bridge everyday.
"It's a fabulous, old structure," he said, "and the celebration today is really a nice thing."
The cast of characters below also included one dog.
"That was the reason for the dog," Gardner laughed, pointing to the right side of the photo. "They had a dog in the picture in 1924."
The final product showed the workers above striking the same poses as their 1924 counterparts.
Also to match the older photo, the dog was positioned a few feet in from the right.
NYSBA bridge maintenance worker Frankie Vitale is just left of center in this year's photo, with his legs hanging off the arched beam.
Vitale said he did not have any relatives in the 1924 photo, but "I'm one of the families now. I'm going to be in the new photo."
There are a few differences between the two photos:
In the newer photo, there were six more workers on the bridge structure than in the older one.
The newer photo also showed three women on the beams above.
There were no women on the structure in the 1924 photo.


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